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Thread: Choosing a Builder

  1. #1

    Default Choosing a Builder

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    Hello everyone,

    Long time lurker - what a great site with a lot of knowledge. This post isn't meant to be about 'the build', but how you choose a builder. I'll post a different thread on the build and things to consider on my build when that time comes. Looking to pull the trigger on a build in the next ~year for a Spring 2016 delivery. I would like you to share your knowledge on how you chose your builder, questions to ask them, mistakes to avoid, negotiating price, contracts, all the things I may not be thinking of? I want to tap into the vast knowledge here to make my entire experience go as smoothly as possible.

    I live in Minnesota and am planning to travel to meet builder before I make a commitment. The build would be custom/semi-custom. I'm in the pre-contact-the-prospective-builders stage - I want to start off on the right foot. Builders being considered: Silverstreak - unlikey being they are in Canada but I love their Swiftsure model, Bay Weld, Armstrong, Lee Shore, North River, Crozier Craft. ALL comments, questions or input welcomed. PM's are fine if you prefer.

    Thank you for all your help.

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  2. #2

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    Dunno if you've considered Hewescraft in Washington state, but there's lot posted on builds at the Hewescraft Owners Forum, not an official part of Hewescraft. The guys report lots of happiness with the cooperation of Hewes and quality of the work.

  3. #3
    Member Ronster's Avatar
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    Agree with Brownbear, but then again, I am biased I guess. You failed to mention how the boat is going to be used, that's a biggie IMHO. A couple of things I would consider regardless of builder:
    1. A self bailing deck is a must have
    2. Get as much power as you can afford and the boat can handle
    3. If fishing a lot, opt for a bigger cockpit
    4. If your plans include a wife and kids, a head is a must
    5. Everything is negotiable, haggle, haggle, haggle


    Ron

  4. #4

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    Voyageur: I posted this in March 2011 - it is still valid today.

    Boat Construction Considerations

    After going through the process of having a custom aluminum boat built I found there are at least five major areas to consider when selecting a builder. When first considering having a custom aluminum boat built it is easy to just look at one of the builders boats and say “Boy that’s a neat boat” without considering ALL of the things that go into having a custom boat built.

    1. Builders Experience – How long has he been in business, how many boats has he built, what is his reputation, what do current and previous owners think about the boats, would current and previous owners have this builder build them another boat?

    2. Design and Engineering – Who did the hull design and configuration layouts, are the boats designed by a naval architect, are CAD drawings done for each boat, is the weight and balance calculated for each boat, and are the boats certified to meet USCG and ABYC (and possibly Canadian CG) standards ?

    3. Construction – Does the builder have an adequate and dedicated construction facility, does he have quality tools, welders and machining equipment, does he have adequate material/boat handling equipment, are ALL of the welders doing the construction tested and certified or do they just know how to run a MIG gun? Are the boats built from drawings or is “Stuff” just added after the hull is completed?

    4. Business Practices – Is a detailed and legal contract which protects BOTH the builder and client done for each boat, how accurately is the start and/or delivery date defined, what is the record of the builder in meeting the start and/or delivery date? How accurate are the builders cost figures – does he have a history of “Cost Escalation” which results in additional charges at the time of delivery? How open is the builder to contract changes? Is a “Build Sheet” which details EVERY system, sub-system and part (i.e. specific make and model of each part used) a part of the contract or does the contract just list general items like, hydraulic steering, refrigerator, suspension seats, 2 bilge pumps, etc,? Are all changes requested by the client added to the “Build Sheet” with the cost listed? Most, if not all, custom aluminum boat builders require an initial small deposit and then either 3 or 4 major construction payments. After the initial construction payment does the builder have to have made material progress on the boat BEFORE payment 2 is made? Does the BUILDER do one or more sea trails of the boat after construction is complete?

    5. Customer Service – How easy is it to deal with the builder, is he open to your ideas, how easy is it to contact him, how quickly does he return your calls, does he give specific answers and not generalities to your questions, if you have a problem how prompt is he is correcting the issues and finally - has the entire process been a pleasurable and fun experience or a giant PITA for prior clients?

    These are just a few things that I found were important to me when selecting a builder.

    There are many builders in Alaska, Washington and British Columbia that will build you a boat – the trick is to find a quality builder that will work with you to get you a boat that meets your needs and budget.

    And finally a comment about delivery dates. If you have a custom boat built you are going to spend some serious money – the builder owes it to you to accurately define and meet a delivery date. There is a big difference in knowing that it will be two years before you are going to get your boat and being told (or having it listed in the contract) that your boat will be delivered in 6 months and then you finally get it a year and a half after that date. A quality, reputable builder will identify a delivery date (accurate to within a few weeks) and then meet that date so long as major changes, not little adds, are not made during the construction process. Having CAD drawings of the boat before construction starts greatly reduces the chance of any major changes.

  5. #5

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    Thank you for the responses so far, this is exactly what I was looking for.

    Ronster, I intend to mostly use the boat to hunt, fish and camp on large lakes in the upper midwest. Rainy Lake, Lake of the woods, Lake Superior and Lake Michigan to name a few. I have a preferred builder in mind, but haven't tipped my hand quite yet in hopes that I can get some criteria from you guys for them to meet/exceed.

    Shark Bait, Thank you! That list is excellent. Who built your boat and how well did they meet your listed criteria? EDIT: I found my answer in 1S1K's build thread. Thanks again. Any other input you could add would be appreciated.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Voyageur View Post
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    I live in Minnesota and am planning to travel to meet builder before I make a commitment. The build would be custom/semi-custom. I'm in the pre-contact-the-prospective-builders stage - I want to start off on the right foot. Builders being considered: Silverstreak - unlikey being they are in Canada.
    There is a Sliverstreak boats here in Anchorage, different than the one in Canada. FYI.

    Wooldridge is not on your list, they make a bunch of high quality boats. Glenn is really good to talk to and has answered many of my questions with a personal call back after I emailed him.

  7. #7
    Member Yukoner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daved View Post
    Wooldridge is not on your list, they make a bunch of high quality boats. Glenn is really good to talk to and has answered many of my questions with a personal call back after I emailed him.
    X2
    Want to be treated like family? Give Wooldridge a call. Not the largest builder out there, I don't think you'll find any negative comments out there on people's experiences with the Wooldridge folks.
    check out the custom build thread on this forum.
    Never wrestle with a pig.
    you both get dirty;
    the Pig likes it.

  8. #8
    Member Akgramps's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daved View Post
    There is a Sliverstreak boats here in Anchorage.
    PM me if you are thinking about going this route
    “Nothing worth doing is easy”
    TR

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Yukoner View Post
    X2
    Want to be treated like family? Give Wooldridge a call. Not the largest builder out there, I don't think you'll find any negative comments out there on people's experiences with the Wooldridge folks.
    check out the custom build thread on this forum.
    Wooldridge Boats is the builder all other builders are being measured by. They are my sentimental favorite. Short story... ~11 years ago I called Glen and gave him my ideas of the boat I wanted. He said he could deliver, I flew out to Seattle... he volunteered to pick me up at the airport... and did! 3 months later he delivered the exact boat I wanted, on time, as promised. It has been written on this forum many times before, and it bears repeating... their entire operation is first class across the board. 100% satisfied customer here. It is no mystery to me why they are an expanding, successful business.

    All that said, this time around I think I'm looking for a different boat than they currently make. One with sealed self-bailing decks, variable deadrise throughout, a sharper bow entry, higher bow overall. I love that fact that they are willing to customize everything else. Believe me - it pains me to think that I hit the jackpot with my first custom builder and now considering another! Which is why I have come to you guys to make the transition as painless as possible. All comments encouraged. Thank you for your input.

    Voyageur


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  10. #10
    Moderator bkmail's Avatar
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    Another vote for Wooldridge.
    They are a custom boat builder as you are aware....might give Grant or Glenn a call and discuss your ideas?!
    (Heck, they even made some airboat hulls years ago....you never know!)
    BK

  11. #11
    Member Akgramps's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Voyageur View Post
    variable deadrise throughout, a sharper bow entry, higher bow overall.
    Variable deadrise, PORT to STARBOARD? Or Warped hull, FORE to AFT? sounds interesting... any examples in metal?
    “Nothing worth doing is easy”
    TR

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Akgramps View Post
    Variable deadrise, PORT to STARBOARD? Or Warped hull, FORE to AFT? sounds interesting more like lobster boat, dory hull... any examples in metal?
    I was thinking fore and aft. Maybe someone handier with computers than I can post an example(pic) of variable deadrise for me? So like 60deg at the bow gradually, or 'variably', changing down to say 18deg in the stern. Instead of having the transition happen in ~4 feet. Does that make sense?



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  13. #13
    Member spoiled one's Avatar
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    You might post the same question over here: http://www.aluminumalloyboats.com


    Spending my kids' inheritance with them, one adventure at a time.

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    Member Akgramps's Avatar
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    You didn't say what size boat you are planning to buy, but assume it will be in the mid 20's with a cabin..?

    Most alloy boats of that size have a constant deadrise through the planning surface with a steep bow entry, a variable deadrise or warped hull has some advantages that escape me at the moment.......They typically have a flatter trim and tend to want to push the bow down some, which means more wetter surface and less efficient. Strakes and chines can alleviate this to some degree. Also it can be more tedious to build as the internal structure has to accommodate this warped hull. Its much easier to build everything the same through the planning surface until the bow starts to rise.... IMO, the disadvantages outweigh the advantages... but maybe some builders on here will chime in and say otherwise.
    “Nothing worth doing is easy”
    TR

  15. #15

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    I should have done that already. Thanks for the reminder. You were one of the people that I was hoping could post up some feedback for me. I'm aware of the legendary 'patience' you had to endure. I'm hoping to avoid that!


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  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Akgramps View Post
    You didn't say what size boat you are planning to buy, but assume it will be in the mid 20's with a cabin..?

    Most alloy boats of that size have a constant deadrise through the planning surface with a steep bow entry, a variable deadrise or warped hull has some advantages that escape me at the moment.......They typically have a flatter trim and tend to want to push the bow down some, which means more wetter surface and less efficient. Strakes and chines can alleviate this to some degree. Also it can be more tedious to build as the internal structure has to accommodate this warped hull. Its much easier to build everything the same through the planning surface until the bow starts to rise.... IMO, the disadvantages outweigh the advantages... but maybe some builders on here will chime in and say otherwise.
    Apparently, I have a lot more to learn regarding deadrise, hull shape, etc?


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  17. #17
    Member jrogers's Avatar
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    I would add Seawolf (www.seawolfmarine.com) to the list of manufactures to consider if you are looking for a very capable ocean boat. I have had mine since 2009. I am approaching 1000 hours and am still amazed by it. To make a good choice, you really need to ride in the boats that you are comparing in rough conditions to understand the differences.

    My build thread is on aluminumalloyboats.com here.
    2009 Seawolf 31'
    www.seawolfmarine.com
    Fully Loaded

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    Member redleader's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jrogers View Post
    I would add Seawolf (www.seawolfmarine.com) to the list of manufactures to consider if you are looking for a very capable ocean boat. I have had mine since 2009. I am approaching 1000 hours and am still amazed by it. To make a good choice, you really need to ride in the boats that you are comparing in rough conditions to understand the differences.

    My build thread is on aluminumalloyboats.com here.
    I thought He was retiring or maybe just downsizing? How has your outdrive held up?

  19. #19
    Member jrogers's Avatar
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    He took some time off when the market was slow, but he is building again now. He has a smaller shop and less employees, so there may be a wait list, but he is very honest about when he can start, or more importantly finish a boat.

    I replaced the outdrive at around 400 hours after I had a top bearing failure, which was common. My new drive is a DHP-C, which is supposedly an updated version to deal with these problems and I have not had issues to date. I had the top bearing repaired, so I have this drive as a ready spare if needed but no more issues so far.
    2009 Seawolf 31'
    www.seawolfmarine.com
    Fully Loaded

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Akgramps View Post
    You didn't say what size boat you are planning to buy, but assume it will be in the mid 20's with a cabin..?
    Am thinking 9'6" x ~28' with a cabin.


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